- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

Accord reached to cut AIDS drug prices

AMSTERDAM U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan won agreement from six major drug companies yesterday to keep cutting prices of AIDS treatments for the world's poorest nations.
"The companies have agreed to continue and accelerate reducing prices substantially, with a special emphasis on the least developed countries," Mr. Annan said in a statement after meeting officials of the six companies.
U.N. officials said Mr. Annan could not divulge financial details of the agreements because the companies worried about accusations of antitrust violations.
Mr. Annan met top executives of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hoffman-Laroche and Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim in Amsterdam to urge them to offer cheap access to anti-AIDS drugs.
The agreement reached yesterday "represents a contribution to the global response to the epidemic going much further than any of us could have predicted 12 months ago," he said.

Court gives Chavez an extended term

CARACAS, Venezuela The Supreme Tribunal of Venezuela said yesterday it ruled that Hugo Chavez's first presidential term would end in January 2007, almost eight years after he took office.
The former paratrooper assumed the presidency of the South American country in February 1999 but was sworn in again in August 2000 after a new constitution was approved by referendum.
The new constitution extended presidents' terms to six years from five and scheduled them to begin in January.

Acropolis occupied in worker protest

ATHENS Workers from the Greek culture ministry occupied the Acropolis, Athens' main tourist attraction, for 30 minutes yesterday, preventing visitors from entering to view the monuments.

The workers, who were employed on a temporary basis, were demanding a renewal of their contracts, local media said.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos criticized the workers for "showing lack of respect and sensitivity for the monuments, especially for the leading symbolic monument of the Parthenon."

Carter to monitor election in Peru

LIMA, Peru Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter arrived in Lima yesterday to head one of the three international teams that will monitor Sunday's presidential elections, the second held in one year.
The former president will head a 35-member team from the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute, which includes Guatemalan ex-President Ramiro de Leon Carpio.
A veteran election observer, Mr. Carter had notably witnessed last year's controversial presidential vote that gave a third term to Alberto Fujimori, who was eventually ousted by the parliament in November.

New Cabinet picked in central Africa

BANGUI, Central African Republic Martin Ziguele, the Central African Republic's new prime minister, named a new government yesterday, days after the country's president threw out the previous administration.
President Ange-Felix Patasse named Mr. Ziguele as prime minister by decree on Sunday, without giving any reason for the change.
The new 22-member government, slightly smaller than its predecessor, is dominated by Mr. Patasse's Central African People's Liberation Movement (MLPC) and its allies.

Gusmao bows out of E. Timor race

NEW YORK Xanana Gusmao, the popular East Timorese resistance leader, said yesterday he would not run for president when the former Portuguese colony achieves independence next year.
Instead, Mr. Gusmao said he could do more good from outside the government to help East Timor make the transition to an independent democratic country.
The territory, now under U.N. administration, was invaded by Indonesia in 1974 after Portugal withdrew.
"It is only a myth that a leader of the resistance has to be the first president," he told a news conference with his Australian-born wife and 6-month-old son by his side. "I commit myself to help the process, but not from the inside."

Tuberculosis hits 27 in Britain

LONDON Tuberculosis, the disease that was the scourge of Victorian England, has erupted again in Britain, this time in a "particularly virulent strain" that has struck at least 27 students at a school in the country's midlands, medical officials said.

Another 60 pupils at the Crown Hills Community College in Leicester were believed to be infected, and one medical official said it had become "a race against time" to halt the outbreak, the largest in Britain in recent memory.

Emergency screening of the 1,200 students at the college was under way yesterday as those already infected with the disease were put on heavy doses of antibiotics.

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